Contact InformationBoxin Zhao

Phone: 519-888-4567 x38666
Location: E6 2012


Biography Summary

Boxin Zhao is a Chemical Engineering Professor and a member of the Waterloo Institute of Nanotechnology at the University of Waterloo.

His research focuses on biomimicry, which involves biological systems such as lotus leaves, gecko adhesive pads, mussel adhesive plaque and biofilms. Professor Zhao is particularly interested in the adhesion phenomena at the micro and nano scale and the implication that this has on chemical, mechanical and biomedical applications.

Effective adhesion between similar or dissimilar material components has become one of the most critical prerequisites for advanced manufacturing at ever-smaller scales. As a result, Professor Zhao is concentrating on the optimization of polymer characteristics. Due to its long-chain structure, allowing it to absorb a large amount of mechanical energy, polymers can be readily filled with components such as nanoparticles and nanowires.

Professor Zhao is currently leading a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Strategic Project. The project aims to develop a robust polymer that sticks to nearly any surface. The material actually conducts and transfers electrical current, unlike conventional glues and plastics that generally insulate. The polymer will highly benefit the electronics manufacturing industry, as it has the potential to eliminate the use of the toxic metal solder that is currently used in electronic devices.

Professor Zhao is also studying reversible adhesive properties of gecko footpads. He has conducted theoretical and experimental investigation into the adhesion and friction forces that characterize the gecko’s foot hairs and developed a Johnson-Kendall-Roberts friction model to interpret the dynamic behaviour. This biomimetic research has applications in biomedicine as the adhesive can be used as an alternative to stitches, as well as a reconstructive material to reduce scarring when treating burn and cancer patients.

Research Interests

  • Surface science and bionanomaterials
  • Adhesives and coatings
  • Biomimetic micro and nano fabrication
  • Nanotechnology
  • Biomechanics
  • Biolubrication
  • Polymer Science
  • Hydrogels
  • Interfacial Phenomena
  • Colloids & Porous Media
  • Micro- and nano-tribology
  • Bionanomaterials
  • Soft Interfaces
  • Biomimetic Adhesion
  • Bio-integrated Devices
  • Nanoparticles synthesis
  • Interfacial materials engineering
  • Biomimicry
  • Biomimetic materials and devices
  • Multifunctional polymers and nanocomposites
  • Biopolymer and healthcare materials
  • Advanced coating and adhesive bonding technology
  • Additive Manufacturing
  • Nanotechnology


  • 2004, Doctorate, Chemical Engineering, McMaster University
  • 1999, Master's, Institute of Chemical Metallurgy, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing
  • 1996, Bachelor's, Mineral Engineering, Central South University


  • CHE 101 - Chemical Engineering Concepts 2
    • Taught in 2015
  • CHE 313 - Applications of Heat and Mass Transfer
    • Taught in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
  • CHE 755 - Res Topics in Electrochemical Engineering, Interfacial Eng & Material Science
    • Taught in 2016, 2017
  • CHE 100 - Chemical Engineering Concepts 1
    • Taught in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
  • CHE 612 - Interfacial Phenomena
    • Taught in 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019
* Only courses taught in the past 5 years are displayed.

Selected/Recent Publications

  • Yang, Fut (Kuo) and Cholewinski, Aleksander and Yu, Li and Rivers, Geoffrey and Zhao, Boxin, "A Hybrid Material That Reversibly Switches Between Two Stable Solid States", Nature Materials(18), 874 - 882 (Accepted in 2019)
  • Zhang, Wei and Feng, Pan and Chen, Jian and Sun, Zhengming and Zhao, Boxin, Flexible Energy Storage Systems Based on Electrically Conductive Hydrogels, Progress in Polymer Science(88), 220 - 240
  • Si, Pengxiang and Chen, Li and Yu, Li and Zhao, Boxin, "Dual Colorimetric and Conductometric Responses of Silver-Decorated Polypyrrole Nanowires for Sensing Organic Solvents of Varied Polarities", ACS Appiled Material Interface, 10(35), 29227 - 29232 (Accepted in 2018) (Accepted in 2018)
  • Yu, Li and Shahsavan, Hamed and Rivers, Geoffrey and Zhang, Che and Si,Pengxiang and Zhao, Boxin, Programmable 3D Shape Changes in Liquid Crystal Polymer Networks of Uniaxial Orientation, Advanced Functional Materials, 28(37)
  • Zhang, Che and Yu, Li and Ferdosian, Fatemeh and Vijayaraghavan, Sucharita and Mesnager, Julien and Jollet, Veronique and Zhao, Boxin*, "Behavior of Water/pMDI Emulsion Adhesive on Bonding Wood Substrates with Varied Surface Properties", Industrial Engineering Chemistry Research, 57(48), 16318 - 16326 (Accepted in 2018) (Accepted in 2018)
  • Rivers, Geoffrey and Lee-Sullivan, Pearl and Zhao, Boxin, Vitrification during cure produces anomalies and path-dependence in electrical resistance of conductive composites, Composites Science and Technology, 149, 2017, 90 - 99
  • d’Eon, Jeffrey and Zhang, Wei and Chen, Li and Berry, Richard M and Zhao, Boxin, Coating cellulose nanocrystals on polypropylene and its film adhesion and mechanical properties, Cellulose, 24(4), 2017, 1877 - 1888
  • Shahsavan, Hamed and Salili, Seyyed Muhammad and Jákli, Antal and Zhao, Boxin, Thermally Active Liquid Crystal Network Gripper Mimicking the Self-Peeling of Gecko Toe Pads, Advanced Materials, 29(3), 2017

In the News